Nile Cruises: Does the "Oberoi Shehrayar" actually exist?
October 6, 2010 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Nile Cruises: Does the "Oberoi Shehrayar" actually exist?

We're in Aswan, Egypt trying to book a cruise down to Luxor. Since we're already here and are planning on spending time in Luxor after the cruise, we don't want one of the package deals that includes excursions in the Luxor or Aswan areas. We just want to get from A to B and see some of the stuff on the way down.

Booking that kind of thing online is virtually impossible as far as we can tell, so we asked in a Thomas Cook travel agency at the fancy Mövenpick hotel and were put in touch with a chap called Waleed. He met us at our hotel this evening, and told us that he specialises in last minute cruise bookings and can get us a 2 night cruise for $80 per person per night (or $85 for a suite) on the Oberoi Shehrayar, leaving on Saturday.

He showed us some photos from websites on his iPhone, and showed us his rave reviews on Trip Advisor and his photo ID. We handed over a $50 deposit (actually 250 EGP), figuring that it probably wasn't a scam (due to the Thomas Cook referral plus photo ID) and $50 was worth the risk.

We're meeting him tomorrow afternoon to see the boat before we make our final decision - we don't pay the rest of the balance until he hands us the key to our cabin.

So far, so good. We even asked the receptionist of the hotel after the agent left if he knew him and were told that he sorts things out for guests here all the time. We're pretty cautious, but it all seems above board.

There's just one problem: $85/person/night sounds too good to be true. Most of these cruises start at $150 and go up from there.

So I did a bit more checking online. Here's where things get odd. Oberoi are a very famous cruise company - their flagship boat, the Philae, is one of the finest on the nile.

www.oberoihotels.com makes no mention of the Shehrayar (or its sister ship, the Shehrazad). A search on Google for "Shehrayar site:oberoihotels.com" provides one result, the page for the Oberoi Philae, but if you click through to the cached version of that page Google says "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: shehrayar"

So it looks like the Oberoi Shehrayar doesn't actually belong to the brand name Oberoi. The question is, is this just a case of an OK boat trading off someone else's brand name (like a pair of fake Calvin Kleins in a souk), or is it something more sinister? There are search results on the Web for "Oberoi Shehrayar" and a few reviews, but it doesn't have a very big web footprint.

We just want to get to Luxor, in relative comfort, without getting ripped off. If the boat and our reservation on it exists and isn't horrible, we're happy. Are we OK?
posted by simonw to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
 
I found this but didn't actually read thru the site.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:49 AM on October 6, 2010


Yeah, that's the site he showed us I think. I'm leaning towards "bog standard Nile Cruiser adopts confusing name to try and get ahead of the rest" as the explanation at the moment. There are 270 cruisers on the Nile, after all.
posted by simonw at 11:51 AM on October 6, 2010


Another data point: http://www.luxurynilecruisers.com/tariff.htm is one of the top hits on Google for that ship... but the price list hasn't been updated since 2007. Most of the reviews I've found are from years ago as well, I don't think I've found one dated 2010 or 2009 yet.
posted by simonw at 11:54 AM on October 6, 2010


And another thing... most of the photos on this website (which he showed us) actually 404 if you click on them: http://www.safariegypt.com/egypt_nile_cruise/oberoiShehrayar/photos/Photo_01_OberoiSherayar.htm
posted by simonw at 11:56 AM on October 6, 2010


The "luxury nile cruises" website with the 2007 sched has a phone number...
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:05 PM on October 6, 2010


Having once had a reason to learn this (can't be more specific), I can say that cruise ships are bought and sold ALL THE TIME. Literally, hundreds of times a year. New boats are built, old ones are sold off, renamed, repurposed, etc. Chances are this was an Oberoi boat, but no longer is, and whatever company now operates it is trading on the old name, perhaps without Oberoi's permission. That could fit with the data point about no new info after 2007. That's probably when they sold the boat.

Generally new ships are built to top of the line specs and as they age work their way down through lower and lower classes of cruise line companies. Since it's only 3 yrs removed from Oberoi, it's probably still in decent shape... (again, if it exists)
posted by raconteur at 12:20 PM on October 6, 2010


Here's somebody's photos of it on flickr from sept 2009 http://www.flickr.com/photos/captaindoodle/3948954202/
posted by interplanetjanet at 1:48 PM on October 6, 2010


Update: we've seen the boat now, so it definitely exists! As far as we can tell it's an ex-Oberoi boat, now operated by a different company (Miser travel). It looks like they've taken the "Oberoi" part of the name off the boat now (there are some faded areas on the side of the ship that look like they might have once held those letters) and don't seem to be marketing it as anything other than the M/S Shehrayar.

We've gone ahead with the booking.
posted by simonw at 2:44 PM on October 7, 2010


« Older Suggest a podium microphone that is sensitive and...   |   How to deal with my coworker? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.